THE GIRL FROM LAL BAZAR

ROCHELLE POTKAR

 

sips divination off cups,
laced in ginger over a saucer of zodiac signs
in dark-dusky mornings after wine sediments in beer mugs
of last evenings,
 
gorging eyes off popped cardamoms –
brittle bones of promises,
unspooling the wedge of her mother’s sari under umbilical,
swallowing the rain in vertical pills,
a land-locked dream gathers vapor,
through the thick glass of a cutting-chai
for storms in tea cups.
 
As Chinese lanterns blow, she predicts smaller surfaces
for her future without straining dregs
that stir the night to cinnamon kisses,
like stars smudging daylight.
In maps of doubt, enmity, falsehood,
spade-shapes of fortune, mountains of hindrance,
patterns in camels, dogs/ letters in heart, and a ring.
 
She starts at the rim like the white women did (after independence),
holding teacup handles to their spiral bottom,
reverse-imaging white-negative spaces in clumps of flavor,
breaking potencies of freedom – on a stain with satin.
 
The girls were then from Europa, Nippon, for the English soldiers.
 
Now Madama drinks brew through her yellowing teeth,
stalking the labyrinth of dark snakes in hot water
from a kettle by the pimp,
bittering in tea-garden time – one hour ahead of the zeitgeist present.
 
What’s left is 14 lanes of women of Nepalese and Indian origin
in the old brewing market of flavors,
and she, the daughter of a randi who is into
the beatings of drums – even has a new track for an international album.
 
She won’t let ripples in the saucer of lip-smacking liquid,
quivering with delight, decide her near and far futures
in scaffoldings of condoms and collarbone-consciences.
 
 

∘∘∘